A study released today in Britain shows that parents with adult children living at home are more likely to be depressed than empty nesters. Here are our top tips for avoiding depression when adult kids live at home:
• Put yourself first: It’s difficult for parents to put their own needs ahead of the needs of their children, but when adult kids are at home, this is critical. Don’t change travel or retirement plans to support your adult kids unless they’re really in trouble. And don’t give up your den if it’s an important retreat – find an unused space where your adult child can settle in.
• Establish ground rules: Adult kids might not like the word “rules” but they’re important for making sure everyone has the same expectations and everyone’s needs are met. Some families with adult children living at home find a contract can help formalize the rules and keep everyone on the same page.
• Ask kids to contribute: They may not be able to afford market-value rent, but adult children living at home should help make a dent in the extra expenses they create (extra gas, higher phone bill, etc.), or at least contribute their labor to household chores. Parents with adult kids who help out around the house are less likely to feel taken advantage of or financially compromised.
• Don’t take on too much: A college grad is capable of cleaning a bedroom, making a meal, and doing laundry. Don’t start providing the same “services” you did when kids were small or you’ll be setting yourself up for way more work than you should reasonably bear, and paving the way for resentment and other bad feelings.
• Take time out for yourself and your spouse: Your kids are grown-ups now, so they don’t need (and probably don’t want) to spend all their time with you. Make time to do things for yourself, and be sure your spouse isn’t pushed aside – especially if your spouse is your kids’ step-parent.
• Talk, talk, talk: Communication is the most important step in keeping parents and adult kids happy. Don’t hold in anger, don’t seethe, and be honest. Share your thoughts and work together to continually improve the situation.